watching culture and media


Asia Studies in Japan


Awatani Yoshiji will discuss representations of techno(logy) culture in Japan, with a particular focus on the discourse of techno-Orientalism, digital media, and pop culture.

Yoshiji Awatani,

Images of Techno(logy) Culture in Japan: Representation of Techno Orientalism, Digital Media, and Pop Culture

This paper discusses representation of techno(logy) culture in Japan. Specifically, I will focus on the discourse of techno-orientalism in connection with digital media, and pop culture.

Recent images of Japanese pop culture are infused with “technology.” These images, such as the otaku, or Akihabara, emerged in the 1990’s, marking the era of post-industrial information society side by side with the introduction of the broadband system that has advanced the electronic environment of Japan and the peculiar developments in Mobile phone culture in Japan.

This prominence of techno culture, at the same time, involves various discourses and cultural expressions on technology. To begin with, a significant part of post war Japanese thought is already concerned with such discourses. This is seen, for example, in “Japan that can say No,” which later developed into a form of Techno-Orientalism.

These problems around technology also find representation in popular culture. Anno Hideaki’s Neon Genesis Evangelion or Oshii Mamoru’s (director of Ghost In The Shell) works regularly explore the man-machine relationship, as well as images of war and battle. Although images and representations of war have changed since 1945, these representations do not necessarily result in the glorification of the war. Rather, I would argue that such animations’ representation of war became possible because it is a virtual war. Along with this, I will also take up the image of “Tokyo” as it plays a symbolic role in the story of Eva and Oshii’s works. This convergence of thought, pop culture and technology represents images of Japan (Tokyo) as techno(logy) culture.